Nov 012013

Despite what it might seems at a first look, this is NOT a complicated thing.

The advantages are enormous… especially if you own a developer account: it would allows you to test the evolution of this awesome OS blended with great benefits of virtualization such as snapshotting.

Whatever is the reason why you wanna install Mavericks on your ESXi box, you’ll find here detailed instructions which have been tested and found working by me 😉

First of all, you need an important piece of software… and no, this software is not illegal, nor it could ruin your precious ESXi 5.1 installation. I’m talking about the mighty Unlocker for VMware by Donk, available from InsanelyMac (free registration).

This is a bunch of bytes which will enable your ESXi to boot a valid Mavericks image.

Once you retrieve the needed software (at the time of this article version 1.20 has been released), you need to unzip and scp/vSphere the 3 needed files for ESXi to your hypervisor.
WARNING: do NOT execute them from / but copy them in a folder you created in /store or something similar.

The good news is that once you execute the included, if you wanna revert there is a ready made to restore previous situation…

The unlocked will complete rather quickly, then you can start building your environment as detailed below.
Naturally, you need to have an Apple original “Install OS Mavericks” package obtained from the App Store, since we’re not talking Hackintosh in Techiezone 🙂

I have the Install OS X Mavericks software under /Applications directory on my Mac, downloaded from Apple Mac App Store (it’s about 5.31 Gb).

First of all, we need to prepare the installation image starting from the original. The image we’ll create and use for the installation is called mavericks-esxi.dmg in the Desktop folder of the logged on user.

Open a Terminal, then type the command:

hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o Desktop/mavericks-esxi.dmg /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\

The output on an Italian version of OS X is similar to the following:
MBP-Marco:~ RoarinPenguin$ hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o Desktop/mavericks-esxi.dmg /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ 
Leggo Driver Descriptor Map (DDM : 0)…
Leggo (Apple_Free : 1)…
Leggo Apple (Apple_partition_map : 2)…
Leggo disk image (Apple_HFS : 3)…
Leggo (Apple_Free : 4)…
Tempo trascorso: 9m 48.939s
Velocità: 8.8Mbyte/sec
Salvataggi: 0.0%
created: /Users/RoarinPenguin/Desktop/mavericks-esxi.dmg
MBP-Marco:~ RoarinPenguin$

Then we need to extend the size of our newly created image to 9 Gb using the command:

hdiutil resize -size 9g Desktop/mavericks-esxi.dmg

This command will complete without any output. We need to mount out new image, to be able to work on it. Use the command:

hdiutil attach Desktop/mavericks-esxi.dmg

The expected output, which might be slightly different on your Mac (especially if you have external HDD or USB keys connected) is:

/dev/disk1          Apple_partition_scheme         
/dev/disk1s1        Apple_partition_map            
/dev/disk1s2        Apple_HFS                      /Volumes/OS X Install ESD

take note of the path where Apple HFS filesystem is mounted, in my case this is /dev/disk1s2.

Use the command

sudo disktool -A /dev/disk1s2 (you might want to replace this path with the path you noted previously on your system)

If you use this command on a system which is already upgraded to Mavericks, it will return a warning like:

diskutil: please use diskutil(8) instead of disktool
File system user/group ownership enabled

Then you’ll mount the original installer again with the command:

hdiutil mount /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\

The expected output is:

Calcolo checksum di Driver Descriptor Map (DDM : 0)…
     Driver Descriptor Map (DDM : 0): verificato   CRC32 $84BDB567
Calcolo checksum di  (Apple_Free : 1)…
                    (Apple_Free : 1): verificato   CRC32 $00000000
Calcolo checksum di Apple (Apple_partition_map : 2)…
     Apple (Apple_partition_map : 2): verificato   CRC32 $B8F227AF
Calcolo checksum di disk image (Apple_HFS : 3)…
          disk image (Apple_HFS : 3): verificato   CRC32 $994EF25A
Calcolo checksum di  (Apple_Free : 4)…
                    (Apple_Free : 4): verificato   CRC32 $00000000
verificato   CRC32 $E3E51727
/dev/disk2          Apple_partition_scheme         
/dev/disk2s1        Apple_partition_map            
/dev/disk2s2        Apple_HFS                      /Volumes/OS X Install ESD 1

Then we proceed to modify our newly created image to make it bootable on a “unlocked” ESXi 5.1 system as follows.

hdiutil attach /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD\ 1/BaseSystem.dmg
/dev/disk2          Apple_partition_scheme         
/dev/disk2s1        Apple_partition_map            
/dev/disk2s2        Apple_HFS                      /Volumes/OS X Install ESD 1
sudo disktool -A disk2s2  ##=> once again, check that you use correct /dev/disk_name here

hdiutil attach /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD\ 1/BaseSystem.dmg
Calcolo checksum di Driver Descriptor Map (DDM : 0)…
     Driver Descriptor Map (DDM : 0): verificato   CRC32 $01CEE39B
Calcolo checksum di  (Apple_Free : 1)…
                    (Apple_Free : 1): verificato   CRC32 $00000000
Calcolo checksum di Apple (Apple_partition_map : 2)…
     Apple (Apple_partition_map : 2): verificato   CRC32 $4F771A3A
Calcolo checksum di disk image (Apple_HFS : 3)…
          disk image (Apple_HFS : 3): verificato   CRC32 $69310D69
Calcolo checksum di  (Apple_Free : 4)…
                    (Apple_Free : 4): verificato   CRC32 $00000000
verificato   CRC32 $65D61011
/dev/disk4          Apple_partition_scheme         
/dev/disk4s1        Apple_partition_map            
/dev/disk4s2        Apple_HFS                      /Volumes/OS X Base System

Finally, we copy the directory entries into our new image with the command:

sudo ditto /Volumes/OS\ X\ Base\ System/ /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD

…and we detach the unused image:

hdiutil detach /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD

Congratulations… so far so good. We have now a cool new image of Mavericks ready to be booted on our VMware ESXi 5.1 system.

Transfer it on the system using, for example, scp.

On ESXi 5.1, create a new Virtual Machine (typical is fine) and give it a name. Select the storage destination.

Choose the guest system, type to be Apple Mac OS X 10.7.(64-Bit). Setup the network or leave the default.

This provisioning technique is fine for the HDD. Edit the configuration.

Set CPU sockets to 2 to give to the baby a little power

VERY IMPORTANT: set the CD/DVD to be connected at boot, otherwise Mavericks won’t boot. Set it to use ISO image, browse the datastore and (enable “show all types”) select the mavericks-esxi.dmg you uploaded previously.

Here we go! Boot it and… let’s proceed 😉

Once you choose the language at boot of Mavericks, run Disk Utility and initialize the Disk giving it a name (I called it VirtualMac HD). Close Disk Utility and from the previous menu select Terminal.

Run the command:

installer -pkg /Packages/OSInstall.mpkg -target /Volumes/VirtualMac\ HD

This command could last 10/20 minutes depending on the speed of your ESXi system, and will terminate with:

installer: The install was successful.

Exit Terminal and select the startup disc to be you new

VirtualMac HD OS X, 10.9


Reboot and…


…enjoy your new virtualized Mavericks installation!

Did you find this article useful? Please use comments here below to share your experience!







  93 Responses to “Installing Mavericks on ESXi 5.1”

  1. To add screenshots, these are the error messages I get: Please help!! This is another attempt to run ESXi on a macbook pro with fusion (apple hardware) no luck!

  2. Mac User, according to Tony ESXi 5.5 still works like a champ… dunno the update 1 but I don’t see many reasons why it should not.
    However, I’m going to upgrade my ESXi to 5.5 U1 from the current 5.1 so I’ll be able to check it out.
    Stay tuned.

  3. Hello Mac User. I confirm that I upgraded my ESXi to version 5.5u1 and the Mavericks image does not complete boot anymore. I suspect there is some low level incompatibility but cannot find out any good reason why it does not work.
    I’ll continue to investigate as time permits, hoping that in the meanwhile other heroes will be able to help with more useful comments than this one I’m writing 🙂

  4. I can confirm that unlocker 1.3 DOES work on ESXi 5.5 U1 stand alone host with vsphere 5.5 THICK client and hardware v8 ( by choosing OSX 10.7 and using Lion dmg, then upgrading using to Mavericks) but will not power on with vCenter 5.5 and choosing OSX10.9-64) as OS choice and trying to boot from osx 10.9 dmg from App Store to begin with.
    This is my combination that worked:
    1- ESXi 5.5 U1 stand alone with intel virtualization enabled in bios w/ unlocker 1.3
    2- Connect using vSphere 5.5u1 thick client ( non web based)
    3- Create a VM shell with 10.7 as OS
    4- Boot with Lion 10.7 OS .dmg
    5- install and configure 10.7 then upgrade to 10.9 Mavericks
    6- from vCenter 5.5 ( web interface) upgrade the hardware to v10

    Sorry can’t reveal identity

  5. When trying to boot this dmg, all I get is the spinning pinwheel. I am on 5.5U1, but I assumed that I could at least install it. am I getting the same results as you with 5.5u1?

  6. To further confuse matters, I just completed a fresh install of ESXi 5.5 update 1 (5.5.0.update01-1623387) and was able to install a fresh Mavericks 10.9.2 using the instructions provided by RP.

    My VM install wasn’t quite ‘stock’, the Mac’s hard drive is an RDM to an iSCSI target on my FreeBSD 10 ZFS server. Otherwise it’s an all-defaults install.

    Host machine is non-Apple.

    I also used the 1.2 unlocker, not 1.3, as that’s what I had on hand from when I first tested this a while ago. So I guess that means I have different (older?) guest tools installed.

    I’m going to uninstall 1.2, install 1.3 and upgrade the guest tools, see what that does.

  7. Followup: Uninstalled 1.2, installed 1.3, rebooted host, updated guest tools.

    Also installed App Store updates (iTunes, Security Updates, etc.).

    Everything is still just fine.

  8. Yes, precisely the ugly same results… 🙁

  9. Wait… what??? Could you please summarise what brought you from the endless spinning wheel on grey background to the current “Heya, works great status?”
    Thanks in advance.


  10. Revealing identity is not required as long as you are not a spammer… and from the content of your comments you are indeed helping this thread… hence thank you!
    I wish I could keep my Mavericks running without going again through 10.7 install and then upgrade to 10.9… so keep hoping that some wizard comes in with its “Vingardium Leviosa” magic stick and reveal us the magic trick.
    Stay tuned.


  11. RoarinPenguin: I was able to boot 10.7 Lion from App Store provided dmg with 1.3 unlocker on ESXi 5.5 u1 WITHOUT using the lengthy process above, on HP hardware.
    – Simply apply unlocker 1.3 on HP build ESXi u1 from March
    – Create a custom VM shell from from ESXi 5.5 u1 thick client choosing OSX 10.7 64 bit with thick eager zero disk and default hardware configs ( thick client only supports HW v8)
    – Attach the 10.7 Lion dmg provided by Apple ( original)
    – power on the VM shell from ESXi 5.5 thick client and wait for a couple of mins
    – if you are having trouble, press command +V for verbose mode boot
    – You should get passed the spinning grey circle and would allow you to choose your language.
    – from there you know what to do…
    – once the OS is successfully installed, install the VM tools
    – bring it on the network with e1000 NIC driver,then upgrade to Mav 10.9( downloaded from App Store)
    – reboot, go to the vCenter where this physical host is connected to, shutdown the upgraded 10.9 VM and change the operating system from 10.7 to 10.9( as previously we built the VM shell with OSX10.7 Lion). Perform upgrade hardware from the web interface
    – Now, from ESXi 5.5 u1 thick client, power on the VM. Login and upgrade VM tools. Reboot
    – That is the magic stick … U got one?

    Remind you, unlocker 1.3 is the magic sauce. I came up with this after over 100 combinations of variables to boot.
    Thanks to the creator of unlocker 1.3

  12. If you have 10.9 running, you should be able to power on. Darwin 13 is not supported on ESXi 5.1 u1. If you can figure it out to boot 10.9 dmg, please post it here. Also if someone can figure out how to convert P2V from xServe to a VM on non apple hardware, please post here.

  13. Anyone know the disktool equivelant to diskutil -A I can’t get disktool to understand the -A what is used instead?

  14. I installed the patch 1.3 as you’ve told, on ESXi 5.5. I followed what you’ve written and even followed macuser’s advice on how to set it up. BUT, I still get the error that darwin11-64Guest is not supported.

  15. I think it is to grant users and group ownership on the filesystem, hence it should compare with “diskutil enableOwnership “.

    Can anyone confirm/deny/correct me?



  16. Uhmmm… unfortunately I haven’t managed to upgrade my ESX system from 5.1 and get my OSX working… hence cannot really comment here.
    But hey, maybe some other hero will post some idea.

  17. Works great! I’m running esxi 5.5u1, unocker 1.3 and OSX 10.9. I didn’t have any issues following the instructions outlined on this post. I did use thick eagered zero, 2*2 CPUs 6gb RAM and 128 video ram. I’m using google chrome remote desktop to connect to it from a virtual win 8.1 desktop using vmware fusion running on a real mac. This is what I call “recursion”!! thank you all for pointing out issues and troubleshooting tips.

  18. Good morning Hiko.
    Thanks a million for your confirmation! Especially now that I do not have the system available for additional testing, Heroes like you are keeping the thread and confidence alive… grazie!


  19. I can confirm that unlocker 1.3 DOES work on ESXi 5.5. I can load 10.9.4 using iso made by this script.

  20. I havn’t OS X installed to prepare the image. Does anyone has or knows how to find an iso ready to boot on ESXi ?

  21. Hi,

    disktool -A is depreciated in Mac Os 10.9, we should use diskutil instead. However, i don’t understand :
    What does that command do to the disk image?
    I tried to convert the image but couldn’t boot it with ESXi 5.1

  22. Worked great with one minor modification.

    On my file, the path to InstallESD.dmg is:
    Install OS X\Contents\PlugIns\InstallESD.dmg

    instead this as listed in the above instructions:
    Install OS X\Contents\SharedSupport\InstallESD.dmg

    Thanks for the great tutorial. Extremely helpful.

  23. Thank YOU for your valuable contribution… which is strange enough since I have checked also in a very recent beta of Yosemite installation package and I have found that location of InstallESD.dmg is indeed in SharedSupport subfolder.

    Maybe somebody else will be able to shed some light on this mystery 😉

    Have a great day,

  24. I keep getting the error below when running the installer. Has anyone else received this and if so, what did you do to remediate? This only happens when paying OSX.

    /stores/osx/osx # ./
    VMware Unlocker 1.3.0
    Copyright: Dave Parsons 2011-14
    ./Unlocker.OSX: line 1: syntax error: unexpected “(”
    /stores/osx/osx #

  25. Hi, just to say, followed your guide to the letter, worked fine.

    Saw a couple of warnings running install from terminal but all seems good.

    Esxi 5.5u2, Mavericks, home built i3 hackintosh, but wanting to run with an unsupported HBA hence virtual route……

    Keep up the good work!! Thanks.

  26. Awesome feedback about a hackintosh working!

  27. Do you know of a way to have a OSX vm boot from a net install image from OSX Mavericks Server? I have to do 40 of these, and this would be a lot faster.

  28. Followed this guide – worked GREAT. Thank you. Had OSX up and running very well for weeks.

    Then, I needed to reinstall ESXI. Did so, then re-imported the vmx (re-added the virtual machine to inventory). Now, OSX is stuck at the gray apple boot screen. Re-ran the to unlock, rebooted, and still stuck.

    Any ideas? Cannot get OSX to boot – really do not want to have to reinstall (I’ve got a lot of custom work/setup in the OSX image).


  29. I followed the guide and am able to get to the Chose language screen but I don’t seem to get any response from the keyboard or mouse once they are captured by the VM, any ideas?

  30. Never mind I figured it out, the Mac VM requires a USB controller which I typically remove since I never use it. Live and learn 🙂

  31. Thanks for that guide !
    I used it successfully to install a Mavericks VM on my ESXi 5.5 update 2 with unlocker 1.3
    Furthermore, I Installed today a Yosemite VM exactly the same way, using the InstallESD.dmg of the OSX update from the Appstore.

  32. Ye-Haw Proactys! Thanks for sharing this awesome news! Great to see that things did not change with Yosemite!

  33. will this ESXi VM support opengl(3D application stuff)????????????

  34. Have no idea, did not test.

  35. Im running ESXi 5.5 build 2302651 and i can’t get past the grey screen with the apple logo. I’ve run the unlocker, and download a torrent with the mavericks-esxi.dmg file because I have no way of creating that because of the lack of a Mac. Any idea as to what is happening in my case, I’ve followed the instructions to the T and still no success. Thanks in advance.

  36. Do you have a link to mavericks-esxi.dmg image where i can download it already packaged? Thanks.

  37. Thanks for the guide..I successfully installed Yosemite 10.10 on ESXi 5.1. but i’m unable to passthrough GPU. I’m having Radeon HD 7770. In ESXi under configuration and advance setting, it is showing gradeout and says host doesnot support pass through configurtion.
    I enabled the Virtualization and VT for Direct I/0 in BIOS but still in ESXi passthrough is gradeout. Pls someone help on the issue.


  38. Thanks for the good tut, have been working on it for 3 days now ^^
    Finally got my ESX to boot Mavericks, but when I’m about to install the OS via Terminal, it stops working.
    I cant copy/paste from this machine, but it says the following (a little bit shortened)
    Installing at base path /volumes/mac
    looking for system packages
    no or invalid system receipts found on volume/mac/recovered Items
    Attempting fallback using………………..
    finding system files
    writing system path cache
    FSF cache NOT written

    At this point nothing happens.
    Any suggestions?

  39. No I’m sorry I do not… it would be too big to host it here and I bet there would be some license issues with Apple.

  40. For the benefit of anyone else apparently stuck at the “FSF cache NOT written” stage, you can see if the install is actually frozen or still running (but succeeding silently) by opening another terminal window:

    Shell >> New window >> New window with settings – basic:
    And grep-ing the output of dh for your installation’s target drive name. E.g. if you chose “Mav” as your partition name in disk utility, enter the following (case sensitive):

    df -h | grep Mav

    …in the second terminal window. You’ll see something like:
    /dev/disk0s2 29Gi 2.6Gi 27Gi 9% 672693 6981723 9% /Volumes/Mav

    …the key pieces of information being the 2.6Gi currently used out of 29Gi total and volume 9% full.
    The finished Mavericks installation should be around 7.2Gb in size.
    At this point you can safely select the startup disk and reboot (or issue “shutdown -h now” from terminal and use vSphere Client to detach the installation dmg from the CDrom drive).

    With thanks to this thread:

  41. Thanks a million for your comment Ben!

  42. Thank you so much. I have been struggling with the Mavericks installation on a ESXi 6.0 Host and the technique on your post worked flawlessly.
    This post is gold! Added to the Bookmarks!

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